Looking at the difference between a clean by the hygienist and this more complex treatment.
At the AJ Dental Group, our focus is on preventative care as far as is possible. Although we have every confidence in the procedures that we use to restore damaged teeth, there is no disputing that it is far better not to need the treatments in the first place by improving our cleaning and general oral care regime.
One of the ways that we do this is to encourage our Woking patients to see a dental hygienist on a regular basis. This not only allows them to learn about what they can do to keep their teeth and gums healthy but to also have a thorough cleaning known as a ‘scale and polish’.
Occasionally, we may have to advise a patient with poor gum health that they need to have a ‘deep clean’. Much as they might wish it was so, this procedure is not the same as a clean by the dental hygienist and is something very different as we shall see below.
Scale and polish
Let us first look at this procedure and what it entails and its purpose.
However well we brush our teeth, and even if we floss as well, there are always areas of our teeth that are next to impossible to keep entirely clean. It is in these areas that we tend to get a buildup of both bacteria and mineral deposits that form a rough surface. This surface will then collect even more bacteria, along with staining, and over time, this can lead to problems such as decay and gum disease. As we have mentioned before, gum disease can be quite uncomfortable, causing gums to become inflamed and sore and can also lead to problems like bad breath. Having a scale and polish procedure is an excellent way to help avoid it.
The procedure itself is relatively straightforward, non invasive and there is usually no need for a local anaesthetic in order for it to be carried out.
The first stage is to manually remove the excess tartar before ‘shattering’ and removing the rest using a sonic implement. Finally, the patient’s teeth are cleaned using a high speed brush to remove any final remnants and to leave the teeth and gum line as clean as possible. This procedure is usually carried out at six monthly intervals, or more frequently for those at higher risk of gum disease such as smokers and diabetics.
Let us now take a look at a deep clean, sometimes also called ‘root scaling or planing’. There is a world of difference in this procedure compared to a scale and polish and it cannot be carried out by a hygienist but needs to be performed by a suitably qualified dentist. Although the treatment can, at times, be carried out without a local anaesthetic, the nature of it means that in most cases one will be used.
Whilst a scale and polish procedure cleans the teeth and the gum line, a deep clean, or root scaling, is used when the problem is located below the gum line. At this stage, we usually refer to it as periodontitis and this can affect not only the tooth but also the surrounding bone structure. If cleaning is not carried out at this stage, the bone will deteriorate and the tooth will become loose and probably fall out over time.
In order to clean this area and to give the tooth a chance of survival, special tools have to be used to access below the gum line. It isn’t hard to imagine that this could be quite uncomfortable without a local anaesthetic being involved. Depending on how many teeth are affected in this way, you may need several appointments to complete the treatment. We also advise that you have some of your regular painkillers at home as you are likely to feel some soreness and discomfort afterwards once the anaesthetic has worn off.
Once the root of the teeth have been cleaned, we will need you to make follow up appointments so that we can check on the teeth and gums. Providing that the bacteria has been removed, there is every chance that you will not lose the teeth affected in this way. Unfortunately though, this is not guaranteed and some tooth loss may occur.
To avoid procedures such as a deep clean, we recommend looking after your teeth with diligent, regular home care including cleaning and the use of dental floss. This, combined with hygienist cleans and regular visits to the AJ Dental Group should help to ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout your life.
To make an appointment to see either a dentist or hygienist, please call us on 01932 352333 (Waterside practice) or 01483 766355 (Parkside practice). We look forward to seeing you and helping resolve any dental issues.